Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fire-Fighter ?!

Have you ever used the term fire-fighter to describe your day, or to describe your (all too common) role?

Many of us would not relate the word fire-fighter to hero. A real fire-fighter swoops down on a fire and with all her/his great dexterity and skill, they put it out. Most I know don't see this label that way. They see it as major burden, as something they don't want to do (putting out fires) .... something they would rather not do in fact.

A real fire-fighter does not know where the (next) fire is going to start or when it is going to happen, but that is their job and they are ready. Most leaders I know who describe their fire-fighting role describe it in similar ways. "It is something new every day." But is it?

The question is -- is firefighting your job? Or is it a role you have grown into in your current role?

The other question is -- what does being more and more of a fire fighter tell you? What does it tell you is lacking? In your team(s)? In yourself?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Were you a coward today? It shows.

Cowardice in the workplace. What does that mean?

I'll try and define it : cowardice in the workplace is lacking the courage to take desired action where there is a perception of opposition. What happens? Inaction.

Have we all experienced this? Sure.

An example - holding a "difficult conversation" (what a buzz term that is these days!) Are you able to hold the conversations you need to get the organizational or personal results that are required ... even when these conversations are not perceived as "pleasant"? What a great opportunity to show some cowardice! Just avoid it!

Guess what though? It is a perpetual thing. If one feels cowardly after not taking an action or holding a needed conversation, then the best way to reinforce that is by continuing to do it.

WHAT WE TYPICALLY DON'T REALIZE: Our bodies don't hide this. If you act cowardly enough, it will show up in how you talk, walk, and even in your posture.

It can go the other way too...

Have you ever heard somebody say something like: "I finally mustered the courage to stand up to John and it felt great." I'll bet that breakthrough carried forward with that person, their confidence grew, and their courage to make similar actions grew. I'll also bet they started to hold their head a little higher, and their back straightened up slightly as well.

If you want to practice becoming less "cowardly" by using your body as an aid, try this:

If you have a difficult conversation ahead of you, practice it with a colleague and for the first 20 seconds hold your body in the most "cowardice" way you know (slouched, head down, whatever that means to you.) Now stop yourself after those 20 seconds and try it again. You can say the exact same things you said the first time, now you must hold your body in the MOST confident way you know (upright, head high, good eye contact, whatever that means to you.) Notice how your perception of yourself changes because of the way you intentionally choose to use your body. Notice how your perception of the future action may have changed. Now try and be intentional about using your body strength to help you "strengthen" your actions.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Simple To-Do list tip to help you feel more proactive

If you are big into To-Do lists, and I know a lot of accounts who are ...

Try one simple thing tomorrow when you are reviewing it. Ask yourself, what is the MOST important action I can take today that is not on this list? Consider your career and your team and your organization from a "big-picture" perspective. What is that ONE thing that might make the most difference if a new outcome can be achieved by doing a new action (that was not on your list.)

Now, since you have just potentially added something to your calendar and list of commitments, challenge the other things on your list. What are the TWO things that are of such lower priority that you can either remove them all together or move them to a future date?

You add one thing, you take away two. That sounds good! Also you have started not with your To-Do list as your starting point for priorities .... you have started with thinking outside of your To-Do list to prioritize your actions based on a longer term perspective.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The first step to BETTER EMAIL

Email overload! Ever heard of it? Ever really .... really .... really ..... felt it?

It seems to me I have never ever met someone who has told me ....

"Brian I don't receive enough emails"
"Brian I don't really spend enough time in processing emails"
"Brian I always get my inbox down to zero every day. I wish that were more challenging."

OK, email can be a very complex issue for some, though in some ways, it SHOULD be a simpler issue, but we'll save that for another time.

First, let's start simple and end this blog post: If you feel like you could be more effective in the way you process email, just ask yourself ONE question before you write or read EVERY single email you work with from now on .....

What is the call to action?

Just ask yourself that question and see what happens.